Dealing with a clogged or broken sewer line can be an absolute nightmare. Sewer problems can be expensive to fix and can also cause serious damage to your home and property. Many sewer issues can be fixed fairly easily if you’re proactive and have a professional sewer service take care of the problem promptly. If you wait, the damage could become so extensive that your only option will be to have a large portion of your sewer line replaced. In this article, we’ll show you the most common signs of sewer issues so that you know what to watch out for and when you need to enlist the help of a professional sewer service.
The most obvious sign that your home has sewer issues is when sewage and wastewater start backing up inside the home any time you use your plumbing. Sewage backups typically indicate that the main sewer line is clogged or obstructed, but they will also occur if the line is broken. When the sewer line is clogged, it will eventually become so full that the waste starts flowing back into the home. Essentially, it has nowhere else to go.
Backups will normally occur first in the lowest fixtures and drains in the home. In homes with a basement, you’ll see sewage start backing up and overflowing out of the floor drain first, and possibly also out of the drains in your showers and bathtubs.
Any time you have sewage backing up inside your house, you should immediately call a professional sewer service. You should also avoid flushing your toilets, doing laundry or using your plumbing. This ensures that more sewage doesn’t flow out of the drains. A main sewer line will usually clog somewhere outside, in between the home’s foundation and where the line empties into the municipal sewer main. This type of clog will typically never go away on its own.
If your home has PVC sewer cleanouts out in the yard, you’ll be able to easily tell that the sewer line is clogged by taking the cap off one of the cleanouts. If the pipe is full of water, it’s a sure sign that it is blocked and not draining as it should. A sewer service should be able to clear the clog fairly easily by either rooting the pipe or using a hydrojet machine to blast the blockage out of the pipe with a high-pressure jet of water.
It’s also a good idea to have a camera inspection performed to check the sewer line for cracks, leaks and tree roots. If the pipe is damaged, it may be possible to repair it using a technique known as trenchless pipe lining. If the inspection reveals major damage, you’ll usually need to have the sewer line replaced. Trenchless sewer line replacement is sometimes an option, or you may need to have the old pipe dug up and replaced.
Slow or Clogged Drains
If most or all of the drains in your home are slow or clogged, you can be fairly certain that your sewer line is at least partially blocked. If only the drains in one part of the home or one floor are slow or clogged, it usually means that the clog is located in one of the main drain lines inside your home. Whenever dealing with a clogged drain, your best bet is to try and clear the blockage using a plunger.
Even though drain cleaners can be effective, most professional plumbers will tell you not to use them. This is because the chemicals in drain cleaners are extremely harsh and corrosive and can do major damage to your pipes. Many drain cleaners also produce a chemical reaction when they come into contact with water, and this reaction releases a huge amount of heat that can severely weaken PVC pipes or cause them to warp.
Gurgling Sounds Coming From Drains and Toilets
When the main sewer line is partially obstructed, you’ll also often hear gurgling noises whenever water goes down the drain. In this situation, you will notice that your toilets don’t flush properly or make a gurgling or chugging noise at the end of the flush just before the bowl starts to fill back up. These sounds indicate that there is air trapped inside the sewer system, which can only happen if either the sewer line or the vent pipe is clogged.
Toilet Fills When You Use the Sink
The drain pipe underneath your toilet is larger than the drains on any other fixtures, and toilet drains also have the straightest, most direct route to the plumbing stack or main vertical drain pipe. This means that toilets are often where issues will first appear any time your sewer line is clogged or the sewer system isn’t working correctly. In some cases, you may notice that the toilet gurgles whenever you use your bathroom sink or shower. If the vertical plumbing stack or the part of the main sewer line inside the home is clogged, it can also lead to the toilet starting to fill up with water and even possibly overflowing when you use any of the other fixtures in your bathroom.
If you notice a sewage smell coming out of one drain, it typically indicates that the P-trap underneath the drain is empty. P-traps have a bend or belly at the bottom of the pipe that always holds water. The water in the bend creates a seal in the pipe that prevents sewer gases from flowing up through the pipe and out of the drain. Any time you notice this smell, all you usually need to do is pour some water down the drain to fill the P-trap back up so the pipe is again sealed off.
If the sewage smell is noticeable in multiple different parts of the home, it’s definitely time to call in the help of a professional. In this case, it could be that part of the main plumbing stack is cracked and leaking or that many of the drain pipes are full and close to backing up.
A strong smell of sewage outside your home is usually a sign that the main sewer line is damaged and sewage is leaking out into the ground. Again, this is something that a sewer service can check for by using a remote fiber-optic camera to inspect the entire length of the pipe both outside the home and underneath the foundation.
Fast-Growing Grass or Vegetation
If the main sewer line outside the home is damaged and leaking, you may start to notice that the grass or vegetation in part of your yard is lush, green and growing more quickly than the rest of the yard. The reason that this happens is that all of the water and human waste leaking out of the pipe nourishes the vegetation and acts like fertilizer, feeding it so that it is healthier and grows faster.
At Childers Air Plumbing & Electric, we specialize in professional sewer and drain services and can help if you’re experiencing any sewer or plumbing issues. We also offer professional heating, cooling and electrical services, so give us a call if you need any home service in the Beckley area.